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Herbert Pickett's Family History
The Pickett's Pets

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Herbert Pickett, Jr. writing:

      One last note on our life in the early Gilman period. Our family had a new addition.  One Sunday as we were coming back from Sunday school at Roland Perk, a small cat attached itself to us.  She was scrawny, undersized, a motley of colors: one leg was yellow, one was gray tiger stripe and the rest of her was a mix-up of colors. She limped from an old injury. She followed us home, crying piteously.  We of course took pity on her and Mother provided some food.  She adopted us, and proved her she-sex by producing a litter of four kittens shortly thereafter. The current best-selling novel the family were reading was about a poor share-cropping black woman named Scarlet Sister Mary, who delivered babies regularly wherever she happened to be by unknown fathers.  Hence this cat became “Scarlet Sister”.  Her right fore leg or shoulder had been broken and never healed, so she always limped, but it didn't reduce her ability to hunt.  She was a ferocious killer. Nature writers say that animals in the wild kill only what they need to eat.  The first night we got to camp, she went on a killing ram-page and killed just for the joy of it.  Her favorite of the moment was given the prey. The year it was my turn, I woke up to find six bodies laid neatly by my bed, chipmunks and red squirrels, occasionally small rabbits, or field mice.  She produced two litters a year, spring and fall, usually 4.  Some turned out to be yellow tiger cats, always male and always, when adult, very large.  We gave one of those to Emmet and he thought him the best cat he had ever had. She would take her litter out in the woods and teach them to hunt.  We never had trouble getting rid of the kittens; her reputation went before her.  My recollection is that she was with us 9 years and produced 72 kittens.  One March break, when we were away and some one was taking care of her, the Morrow’s two fox terriers cornered her on the porch and killed her.

      About 1930 we decided we wanted a dog.  We debated the possible varieties.

      The Speers had purebred cocker spaniels, which didn’t appeal to us.  Dad rather wanted an English Bulldog due to his Yale allegiance.   Searching the classified ads, we found a “bull terrier” litter available.  We visited the place and purchased an appealing female.  I don’t think she was a bull terrier at all.  She was short hair, white, with large brown patches over each eye. We didn’t know what to name her.  One day, the trash and garbage had been set out for the school staff to pick up.   The dog got into it and enjoyed the garbage, spreading it all around.  The next day or two, Mother and Dad went down town to see the new movie, “Grand Hotel”, an early talkie starring John Barrymore and Greta Garbo.  Dad thought it a lousy show and particularly was not taken by La Belle Garbo.  Putting the two together, the dog was forever “Garbo”. That December she came down with distemper.  We took her to a vets on Christmas Day.  She recovered. She was sweet-tempered and friendly, once, too much so.  Football practice was in session on the varsity field.  I was in my usual guard position, on the defense.  I was on my hands and knees.  Garbo got loose and came to the field, walked down the scrimmage line to give me a kiss.

      We did not have her spayed, but in the early years, she did not have any puppies.  The Morrow’s terriers were too short to breed her, though they tried.  At camp, the Dunnings chow, Ho Ting, did his best many times around the camp, but no puppies.  (Ho Tinging, of course, entered the camps teenage vocabulary for sexual activity.)  Finally, she had one pup, sire unknown, named “Herky,” (for Hercules.) When she was ten and Dad had started Cooperstown Academy, she produced two pups.  A year or two later, one August at camp, Dad came back from town and said to me, “Take care of that carton, back there.”  I took it out of the back of the pick-up and it was her body.  I said to Dad, “That box was heavier than I realized.”  I buried her outside the wall of the Oliver cemetery at Craig Lynn.

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